Small Craft

Late 19th & Early 20th Century British Yachting

The Sailors: Amateur British & Irish Yachtsmen Before World War One

The Yachting Monthly: May, 1906–The Present

These pages would be incomplete were not some mention made of the publication that served as a focal point for the sharing of information, stories, hints, tips, and artwork amongst the many sailors discussed on this site. The Yachting Monthly (Illustrated) was founded by Herbert L. Reiach, published out of the offices of The Field (Reiach coming from the staff of The Field, and regularly contributing to the pages of the new magazine under the nom de plum M.I.N.A.) in May, 1906 with the express purpose of "giving the cruiser more attention than he has hitherto received" while certainly not excluding the exploits of the racing sailor. In an introduction to the very first article presented in the magazine Reiach notes:

Month by month we shall be glad to receive and buy for publication the best logs and cruising stories offered to us from all parts of the world. In this way we hope to put practical experience before our readers, and admit many to the pleasures of a few. It is not sufficient, however, that a diarist has travelled far or that he has done so with great success. If he cannot clearly convey his experience and feelings his work must be wasted as far as we are concerned. We want the actual experience of our writers, but we require them to be transmittible to others.

From an introduction to "The Log of the Sunbeam" in The Yachting Monthly (Illustrated), May, 1906.

Thus began a tradition of publishing the stories and anecdotes, along with the illustrations and photographs, of a most interesting collection of individuals.

By 1907 the magazine's name had been changed to The Yachting & Boating Monthly and by about 1910 the name had again changed to The Yachting Monthly and Marine Motor Magazine in recognition of the ever increasing presence and importance (though not to many!) of the auxiliary engine in the small sailing yacht.

Starting with the February, 1918 issue it was announced that, through special arrangement with the Admiralty, the magazine would become the official publication of the R.N.V.R and the name was changed yet again to The Yachting Monthly and Magazine of the R.N.V.R. - clearly reflecting the ongoing readership of pre-war yachtsmen now enlisted in the R.N.V.R. With the adoption of this semi-official role, the column "Unofficial" appeared each month detailing the triumphs, tragedies, and often times humorous minutia of life within the R.N.V.R.

In 1922, post-war, and demobilisation, with the ascension of Heckstall-Smith to the helm, the title was simplified to just The Yachting Monthly where it would stay for the next five years.

In the early years, the years with which this site is concerned, Herbert Reiach was at the editorial helm of the magazine. An artist and sailor himself, as well as a marine architect, it appears that he was well aqcuainted on a personal level with many of the contributors to the magazine. He also appears to have been a man of good humour, willing to be the butt of gentle jokes in many articles. He set the tone for the magazine by insisting on as many illustrations (vs. photographs) as possible (though this was certainly to change in later years) and, as W. Edward Wigfull mentions in one article "the occupant of the editorial chair...not only desires "facts," but carries his eccentricity as an editor further, by insisting on the facts being actually personal experiences of his contributors." This clearly harks back to Reiach's initial introduction and led to one of the best collections of small-boat sailing experiences - ranging from the grand cruise to short fragments describing how their their authors were deprived of their dinners - ever published.

Expanding beyond editorial control, in 1911 Reiach began to print and publish the magazine as well—establishing a publishing house that would continue after his early death in 1921, earning a reputation for extremely high quality colour printing. Reiach also took over publication of The Saturday Review during these years.

Returning the Reiach's vision, Maurice Griffiths took the helm in 1927, rescuing the magazine from a five year period of decline as regards the direction of the magazine, its focus, and content under the reign of Heckstall-Smith. That spring he noted:

"...I had decided to alter the course just that 'one point more to the north, ' which I felt would improve her speed and weatherliness. Time only will tell if this conviction is justifiable.

Until then I can only crave the patience of my readers who may experience the very natural and conservative suspicion of any new methods which may make themselves felt in these pages. The proposed improvements cannot all take place in one single issue, for the task of a new skipper with such a large crew is difficult, and many of the crew itself are loath to accept a new helmsman until he has proved his worth. Nevertheless, there are several 'old hands,' whose names at one time were almost household words with readers of the Yachting Monthly in years gone by, who have expressed their willingness to sign on once more, and in this issue [No. 250, Vol. 42, February, 1927 - JLC] there is scarcely any need for me to introduce such contributors as Arthur Briscoe, Chas. Pears, Frank Cowper or Arnold Edmondson to readers who, not so very long ago, were looking forward to their copies of the Yachting Monthly in Flanders, Mesopotamia, or perhaps 'on leaf'.... And in issues to come it is hoped that serveral articles will appear under names that can only be associated with the Yachting Monthly of pre-war days.

The Editors
This is a list of the editors of The Yachting Monthly over the years. Please feel free to submit corrections/additions to my incomplete data. Recently, as part of its centennial celebrations, The Yachting Monthly has put a history on its site which summarizes the editorial direction of the magazine over the past hundred years quite nicely.

  • Herbert Reiach, 1906–1921 (his death aboard his boat)
  • Malden Heckstall-Smith, 1921–1926 (considered by many, including succeeding editor Griffiths, to have produced a ruinous five years)
  • Maurice Griffiths, 1926–1939 (the January, 1927 issue was the first published with Griffiths' name at the masthead)
  • Kathleen Palmer 1939–1945 (filling in for Griffiths' during his R.N.V.R. service)
  • Maurice Griffiths, 1945–1967
  • John D. "Des" Sleightholme, 1967–1985
  • Andrew Bray, 1985–1992
  • Geoff Pack, 1992–1997
  • James Jermain, 1997–1999
  • Sarah Norbury, 1999–2003
  • Paul Gelder, 2003–2012
  • Kieran Flatt, 2012–